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Justice Prevails: Heed Brings Real-Life Experience into Keene State Classroom

Peter Heed
Peter Heed

Keene State might be a few blocks from the Cheshire County Courthouse, but that hasn’t stopped criminal justice adjunct faculty member Peter Heed from holding court—night court that is—every Wednesday on campus.

Heed, a former NH attorney general who has served as a prosecutor and defender and is currently working as a trial consultant for a high-profile litigating firm in Keene, transforms his classroom to a courtroom, not only talking about his real-life experiences working in the justice system, but discussing current and relevant cases taking place around the country and in New England. “I think my students are fascinated with the justice system and examining high-profile trials like the Boston Marathon and Aaron Hernandez cases,” said Heed, who teaches a course called Criminal Law and Procedure. “Most people don’t have that basis of reality, and that’s what I try to bring to the students.”

“When we needed to add a criminal law component to the program, Peter was my first and only choice,” said Professor Peter Stevenson, who oversees the Criminal Justice program at Keene State. “He was able to connect students with the real world in so many ways.”

Heed pleads innocent to the charge of having an impressive background. Originally from Amish Country in Pennsylvania, Heed attended Dartmouth College and went to law school at Cornell before embarking on a career serving on both sides of the bench. After addressing juries, Heed now finds himself speaking to students and says he finds the students at Keene State motivated and interesting and is glad the College added criminal justice as a major. “I was really supportive in terms of getting criminal justice as a major and think it’s becoming a top notch program,” he said.

In addition to Heed, the Criminal Justice program also includes many other notable adjuncts, among them David Forrest, Cheshire County’s first family court judge; Richard Van Wickler, the superintendent of the Cheshire County Department of Corrections; and Art Walker, a former chief in the Keene Police Department.

Stevenson and Heed hope the docket for the program continues to grow. Stevenson is currently developing a course in homeland security and terrorism. He would also like to add a class in victimology.